RAUB: A father and son were among five men who claimed trial at the Sessions Court here today for entering the Batu Talam forest reserve without a permit earlier this month.
Indonesian nationals - Kanir, 32, and Shah Ronny Rusly, 46, - along with farm owner Chiah Kin Seng, 54, and his 21-year-old son Lavin Chiah Zhe Yueng pleaded not guilty when the charge was jointly read before Sessions Court judge Ahmad Faizadh Yahaya.
They were accused of entering Compartment 175 of the Batu Talam permanent forest reserve under the Tras sub-district near here without a valid permit about 10.36am on July 3.
The fifth accused - Wong Than Fook, 49, - was separately charged for committing a similar offence about 10am on July 8.
All the accused were charged under Section 47(1)(c) of the National Forestry Act 1984 for failing to obtain a permit to enter the forest reserve in accordance with the National Forestry Enactment 1986 adopted in Pahang.
If found guilty, the offence carries a maximum imprisonment of three years or a fine of not more than RM10,000, or both.
The Peninsular Malaysia Forestry Department, represented by deputy public prosecutor Afidatul Azwa Kamarulanuar proposed bail at RM8,000 for Chiah and Lavin, and asked for no bail to be offered to Kanir and Shah Ronny.
Lawyer Samantha Chong Yin Xin, who represented the four accused, argued that both the Indonesian farm workers should be offered bail under Section 47.
"Despite the accused being foreigners, their offences were not an Immigration case. The RM8,000 bail amount is too high.
"Kanir who has a valid passport and work permit earns RM1,500 a month while Shah Ronny has been working in Malaysia for 15 years. Shah Ronny who earns RM1,400 a month has been sending his salary to support his wife and child in Indonesia," she told the court.
During mitigation, Samantha said Chiah, a father-of four aged between 14 and 25 years-old, is from Taman Raub Jaya near here and will not make any attempt to be absent from court.
"His son Lavin is studying in a college and is currently undergoing an internship here. He has no criminal records and, both Chiah and Lavin are scheduled to receive their Covid-19 vaccination tomorrow (Thursday)," she said.
Ahmad Faizadh granted bail at RM3,000 each for Kanir, Shah Ronny and Chiah while Lavin was allowed RM2,000 bail with one surety. Kanir and Shah Ronny were told to get a Malaysian bailer.
Meanwhile, Wong was also offered RM5,000 bail before his lawyer Chong Kar Yan pleaded for a lower amount saying he has a land grant and his farm was about 1km from the reserve forest.
"The bail amount proposed is RM1,500. The father-of-two still supports his 80-year-old father and 73-year-old mother," she said before the court granted RM3,000 bail with one surety.
Ahmad Faizadh fixed Sept 15 for mention.
On July 3, Pahang Forestry Department director Datuk Dr Mohd Hizamri Yasin was reported saying four individuals including two foreigners were arrested for encroaching into the Batu Talam forest reserve.